HBO’s Girls Proves Dating as We Know It Is Dead

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The Gaggle author Jessica Massa explores how HBO's Girls highlights the unnecessary rules of dating in a post-dating world
By Jessica Massa
Author of The Gaggle

“I’m offended by all the ‘supposed to’s.’ I don’t like women telling other women what to do, or how to do it, or when to do it. Every time I have sex, it’s MY choice. And if I wanted to go on some dates, I would. But I don’t. Because they’re for lesbians.”–Jessa on Girls

HBO’s new series Girls has arrived on the feminine-focused TV sitcom scene—and to listen to the critics, the press and the Twitter feeds of young women everywhere, TV, comedy, and the modern female experience will never be the same.

Much has been said about Girls: that the relationships between the women feel authentic, that the Millennial sense of mild entitlement feels all-too-real-and-damning, that the sex is horrifying (and, oh dear god, it is), that the all-white and all-middle-to-upper-class cast doesn’t properly represent the cross-section of modern women for whom the show has been charged with speaking.

But here is my favorite thing about Girls: It takes place in the post-dating world that most female readers know all too well. At long last, the post-dating world, warts and all (seriously, they talk about warts), is finally out there for everyone in TV land to see and understand.

VIDEO: Girls’ Lena Dunham is “Voice of a Generation”

Sure, it might feel like the most bleak, depressing, f**ked up version of the post-dating world–without all the excitement and empowerment that comes along with embracing post-dating tenets like ambiguous connections and non-dates and techno-romance and the gaggle. As we at WTF Is Up With My Love Life?! say all the time, this new romantic frontier doesn’t have to be a frustrating, confusing mess characterized by stress, insecurity, and awful sex. But on “Girls,” it is. And either way, cringeability aside, it’s the most accurate portrayal of the post-dating world that we’ve seen on TV so far.

The show revolves around four early-twenties girls living in New York City, but Sex and the City this is not. If Carrie and Co. were going on swanky dates, marrying successful lawyers, and celebrating their meaningless sexual flings, then the girls of Girls are texting their undeserving Boyfriend Prospects, flirting with Career Boosters at job interviews and work events, pondering the “weird and aggressive” nature of having an ex’s ex like your Facebook status, and googling “the kind of stuff that comes around a condom.” Oh, and they are not going on dates. So far, not a one of them.

The modern romantic authenticity of the show stems from the fact that, out of four girls, zero of them seem to be living any sort of traditional love life. And not only are these friends’ love lives different from any others portrayed on TV, but they’re also different from each other, further proving the fact that every woman’s post-dating journey is completely unique to her experiences and needs and wants.

Main “Girl” Hannah is chasing a guy who won’t even text her back, and whose most genuine attempt at a compliment is, “You’re not that fat anymore…” Her best friend Marnie, who should be living the most traditional love life of all–she is in a four-year relationship with a sweet and dedicated guy that began in college–is finding herself stifled and frustrated by the trappings of a relationship that seems too good to be true, yet leaves her miserable, mean, and feeling like her boyfriend’s touch “now feels like a weird uncle just putting his hand on my knee at Thanksgiving.” Throw in Shoshanna, an insecure virgin who lives by the strict rules and judgments of her dating books, and Jessa, a free-spirited European who can’t seem to be in a room with a man (including her friends’ boyfriends) without demanding that he stick his hands down her pants, and you have, well…you have several version of what life can be in the post-dating world.

Needless to say, the premiere season of Girls offers much to ponder and analyze about modern love, romance, and incredibly awkward attempts at talking dirty. But as you get sucked into the first season, here’s my advice—no matter what you’ve already read about the show, and it’s supposed status as the voice of our generation (or “a voice of a generation”), don’t immediately judge it on its worth and accuracy as a 100 percent realistic portrayal of your very own life as a Millennial woman. Millennial women all have their own paths to success, happiness and self-realization, just as we all have our own paths to love. So for now, don’t watch the show with comparisons to your own life at the forefront of your mind. Just watch it to enjoy it.

And then don’t be surprised when you think back on it later and start matching up scenes, moments and quotes to your own life.

Next Sunday, call your Accessory, invite him over for TV night, turn on Girls, and get ready to laugh (yes, he’ll be laughing, too).

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Photo courtesy of HBO

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